Karaoke clubs and lounges have become the new hotspots of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Singapore. On Wednesday, the country registered 56 local cases of the viral disease following the discovery of a cluster among social hostesses and customers of KTV karaoke lounges. Of the 56 new infections, 42 were from the KTV karaoke cluster, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
The emergence of the above cluster surfaced at a time Singapore is gradually easing its pandemic-related restrictions, including allowing people to meet in larger groups and also rolling back dining curbs, a report by the BBC said on Thursday. Groups of five can now dine-in at restaurants compared to the earlier limit of just two.
The health ministry has now launched an investigation into the infections found among the hostesses, a majority of them being Vietnamese, who frequented KTV lounges. Free Covid-19 testing is also being provided to anyone who was exposed to the virus in such venues, news agency Reuters reported.
In another major development, 20 women were arrested on late Wednesday for alleged vice activities at the lounges. Police said the arrested included women from South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. An investigation is also underway against operators of three lounges for breaching Covid-19 protocols, police said, adding they are also planning to step up the crackdown against vice activities in Singapore along with increasing checks on lounges, according to Bloomberg.
Karaoke lounges were initially closed as part of the government’s Covid-19 restrictions, but a majority of them reopened after they obtained licences to operate as food and beverage outlets.
Four establishments operating as food and beverage outlets have been identified as having an ongoing transmission of Covid-19 and have been closed for two weeks, the health ministry said.
As of now, Singapore is not looking at reversing the relaxations in restrictions due to a high level of vaccination rate in the country. Over 70 per cent of the population has been inoculated with at least one dose of the vaccine, one of the highest rates across Asia, Bloomberg further reported.
Health minister Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday urged the public to be cautious and only meet people if they have to. ”We are in a much more resilient position than before,” Kung said while addressing reporters.
(With agency inputs)